Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

20 November, 2010

Who’s been watching HBO’s True Blood? Me! Most of my friends have stopped watching the series saying there’s too much sex in it which, although true, doesn’t really bother me much except for the orgy scenes, obviously *rolls eyes*. But I seem to have become fixated on the series. Hello Eric Northman, the Viking vampire played by Alexander Skarsgård. Yup, it’s always because there’s some handsome blond dude. I have a weakness and it cannot be helped.

When I started watching the first series on tv, I happened upon a copy of the first book in the series on which True Blood is based: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. As it was only a pound, I had to get it, right? Steph and Tony Investigate! had mixed feelings about Dead Until Dark and it lay on my shelf for months until I read Gaskella’s review and thought, why not?

And she’s right, I thought it was a great read. Maybe because I’ve already seen the series, I kept comparing the book to it, but it was fine. It was a quick and easy read and I read it in two sittings (which is pretty quick for me these days with my shrinking attention span!) Dead Until Dark covers most of series one of True Blood minus some characters and plot threads which probably appear in other books. I suppose this is because tv works differently from books. But that’s OK with me.

Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress working at Merlotte’s in Bon Temps, Louisiana. When we first meet her, she’s someone who’s trying hard to appear normal and hide her ‘disability’ from others. She can read minds and is always on edge. That is, until handsome Bill Compton arrives at Merlotte’s. For the first time in her life, Sookie knows peace and quiet as she cannot read him. And she’s excited because he’s the first vampire she’s ever met. Vampires have become mainstream since synthetic blood was formulated by the Japanese thus negating the need for them to drink from humans. There is still an uneasy and fragile concord between the two species but things seem to be progressing with the introduction of laws to ease the vampires into human society.

But as soon as Sookie and Bill form a friendship, two ladies with an interest in vampires are found murdered in their beds. As the killer strikes close to home, Sookie must try and find out who did it while protecting her fragile relationship with Vampire Bill. With her handsome brother Jason under suspicion from the police for his past dalliance with the two murdered women, Sookie starts her own investigation. With the aid of Bill, she visits Fangtasia, where vampires and their groupies hang out, to ask questions. She also meets Eric Northman, the owner of the club and the Vampire Sheriff for the area, who shows a dangerous interest in Sookie and her ability to read minds. As Sookie’s world becomes more crowded and dangerous, will she be able to find the killer in time before she becomes a target herself? And will she be able to keep control of her relationships?

I thought this was a great book. It’s easy to read, sexy and gallops at a fast pace. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series, although as A Little Bookish pointed out, the tv series is better written. But I’m not complaining. I have to add, however, that maybe reading this in book form rather than audio form may be less cringy, what with all the sex ‘n’ all;P By a happy coincidence, I just found the fourth in the series, Dead to the World featuring Eric Northman, in my local charity shop. I say it’s destiny^^

Have you read any of the Southern Vampire books or watched True Blood? Did it tickle your fancy? Spill!

18 Responses to “Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris”

  1. Vindi Says:

    I completely agree! I know the TV show is criticized for too much skin but the storyline is so addictive and who can possibly switch the channel away from Vampire Eric?! Alexander Skarsgård is far too delish for that.

    I really enjoyed the books (haven’t read them all but definitely will do when I get around to finding them)- great, light read and I guess not as complex as the show in some ways, but good nevertheless.

  2. Eva Says:

    I saw season one of True Blood on my library’s shelves a couple weeks ago and brought it home to give it a go. I must say, I was glad I was watching alone so I could fast forward through all the sex scenes…for me, they were too explicit and gross (lol) and extraneous to the storylines (I think HBO does things like that just because it can). I watched the first 3 dvds (my library packages them separately), and while I requested the last 2, now that I’ve got them home I haven’t felt the need to watch them yet. So I don’t know if the show’s for me…when I read about it, it sounded like a comedy, but it’s so dark! I do like Sookie herself though. 🙂

  3. Iris Says:

    I haven’t watched True Blood, but I was present in the room when my sister and dad watched it and well.. I think it is too explicit for me. The sex scenes made me uncomfortable most of the time. I haven’t felt a need to read the books after that (and while my sister owned them, she sold them to someone else – so I guess I never will read them), especially if, a you say, the TV series is better written.

  4. gaskella Says:

    Thanks for the link Sakura. Glad you enjoyed it – the books are great fun so far (I’ve read the first two). I’ve only watched bits of the TV series – so I haven’t encountered vampire Eric on screen – sounds like I should catch up, but fast-forwarding through the over-raunchy bits!

  5. Steph Says:

    I’m sure a huge reason why I didn’t enjoy this book was because I listened to it rather than read a paper version of it. The sex scenes were SUPER awkward to listen to, compounded by the weird accents the reader gave to the characters (her Bill voice made me cringe). Also, I agree that the tv show is actually better written than the book,and I just felt like if you’ve seen the show, there’s no need to read the book.

    • chasing bawa Says:

      I’m sure it must have been awkward, especially if the accents were weird;P If there is a book or tv series I like, I automatically want to watch/read the same in thing in other mediums. I seem to be obsessive like that.

  6. Bellezza Says:

    I know nothing about the series, as we don’t subscribe to HBO. It’s funny with television. I can have 200+ channels and still find nothing to watch! I’m glad you enjoyed it, though.

    • chasing bawa Says:

      I don’t actually have any satellite channels as I’ve already got enought watch and not enough time. Plus now with the internet you can watch most things on line. But yeah, if you have too many channels I always end up channel-hopping anyway!

  7. Um, I have no issues watching the sex scenes but, yes, that may have something to do with Alexander Skarsgård (the theme-tune lyrics definitely apply to that man). I do, however, find them cheesy to read. HBO have certainly amped up the overt raunchiness of the sex but then I love Sex and the City so it doesn’t faze me at all. A couple of sex scenes have had me raising my eye-brow (there’s a certain scene with Lorena in the latest season that “pushes the envelope”). I love controversy though and think Alan Ball wrote just as graphic sex scenes for Six Feet Under, without the fantastical setting.

    Anyway, I have read the entire series so far (most of them in June of this year) and find them deliciously easy and engrossing reads. Sometimes I need “popcorn books” and these are definitely that for me.

    • chasing bawa Says:

      Yeah, they are very easy to read. And you are right about Alan Ball. I watched most of Six Feet Under which I thought was fabulous and very dark and there was some extraordinary sex in it too;P

  8. I’m watching too! I’ve only seen the first two seasons so far, but I wholly enjoyed them. More so than the books (I’ve only read the first two of those too, coincidentally.)

    I think the screenwriting is stronger and more complex (but also that they’re likely planning to appeal to a different audience slightly than Charlaine Harris’ mystery-reading followers) and I really like the fact that some of the characters on film are given a different focus (two, in particular, great characters, being allowed to live in the screen-version but not in print).

    I’ve picked up a couple of the next books; I’m not sure if I’ll read further, but I definitely plan to keep watching!

    My newest screen-addiction is “Flashforward”, but I’ve only seen 6 episodes and am anxious that network-TV might not sustain the quality in the same way that HBO shows do… (and, no, I haven’t read Robert Sawyer’s novels, but now I wish I had).

    • chasing bawa Says:

      I’m watching it on terrestrial tv so we’re coming to the end of season two here. So still more to come! But the tv series definitely seem darker and subtler.

      I’ve seen a couple of episodes of Flash Forward which I thought were great too. Shame they canned it.

  9. Andrew Brown Says:

    Ah, a longer but similar review to my own

    I’ve just finished series two today and can’t wait for series 3 – going to switch to watching it on FX rather than wait on Channel 4!

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